Recently the Booktopia Book Guru asked Booktopia’s resident classicist, Dr Cant – why should I read Homer?
To read Dr Cant’s answer…and to leave a comment - CLICK HERE (BEWARE! BLOG MAY CONTAIN HUMOUR.)
One of the foremost achievements in Western literature, Homer's Iliad tells the story of the darkest episode in the Trojan War. At its centre is Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, and his refusal to fight after being humiliated by his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan Hector kills Achilles' close friend Patroclus, he storms back into battle to take revenge – although knowing this will ensure his own early death. Interwoven with this tragic sequence of events are powerfully moving descriptions of the ebb and flow of battle, of the domestic world inside Troy's besieged city of Ilium and of the conflicts between the gods on Olympus as they argue over the fate of mortals.
E.V. Rieu's acclaimed translation of Homer's The Iliad was one of the first titles published in Penguin Classics, and now has classic status itself. For this edition, Rieu's text has been revised, and a new introduction and notes by Peter Jones compliment the original introduction.
About The Author
Homer was probably born around 725BC on the Coast of Asia Minor, now the coast of Turkey, but then really a part of Greece. Homer was the first Greek writer whose work survives.
He was one of a long line of bards, or poets, who worked in the oral tradition. Homer and other bards of the time could recite, or chant, long epic poems. Both works attributed to Homer – The Iliad and The Odyssey – are over ten thousand lines long in the original. Homer must have had an amazing memory but was helped by the formulaic poetry style of the time.
In The Iliad Homer sang of death and glory, of a few days in the struggle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Mortal men played out their fate under the gaze of the gods. The Odyssey is the original collection of tall traveller’s tales. Odysseus, on his way home from the Trojan War, encounters all kinds of marvels from one-eyed giants to witches and beautiful temptresses. His adventures are many and memorable before he gets back to Ithaca and his faithful wife Penelope.
We can never be certain that both these stories belonged to Homer. In fact ‘Homer’ may not be a real name but a kind of nickname meaning perhaps ‘the hostage’ or ‘the blind one’. Whatever the truth of their origin, the two stories, developed around three thousand years ago, may well still be read in three thousand years’ time.
Fitzgerald has solved virtually every problem that has plagued translators of Homer. The narrative runs, the dialogue speaks, the military action is clear, and the repetitive epithets become useful text rather than exotic relics. Atlantic Monthly Fitzgerald s swift rhythms, bright images, and superb English make Homer live as never before This is for every reader in our time and possibly for all time. Library Journal [Fitzgerald s Odyssey and Iliad] open up once more the unique greatness of Homer s art at the level above the formula; yet at the same time they do not neglect the brilliant texture of Homeric verse at the level of the line and the phrase. The Yale Review What an age can read in Homer, what its translators can manage to say in his presence, is one gauge of its morale, one index to its system of exultations and reticences. The supple, the iridescent, the ironic, these modes are among our strengths, and among Mr. Fitzgerald s. National Review With an Introduction by Gregory Nagy"
Series: Penguin Classics
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 560
Published: March 2003
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.38
Edition Number: 1